he Mount Vernon Nazarene University baseball team (38-18) began play in the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round in Kingsport, Tennessee on Monday, May 16.
MVNU entered the opening round as the four-seed in the Kingsport Bracket. The Cougars first took on Madonna University (27-14), the five-seed, in their first game of the day. Madonna struck first with a run in the top of the first. The Crusaders added to their lead with a two-run homer, making the score 3-0. MVNU used a big fifth inning to take control of the ballgame. Andrew Miller cleared the bases with a three-run triple, Jake Glover hit an RBI single that scored A. Miller, and Cameron Miller hit an RBI single of his own that scored Glover. The five run inning put MVNU in front 5-3.
Two Casey Kalman RBI’s in the fourth and sixth innings padded the lead for the Cougars. Now winning by a score of 7-4 in the eighth, Devin Pearl hit an RBI single that scored Joe Poremsky, and Hogan Heck hit a sac-fly that scored Kalman. The Crusaders tacked on two runs in the ninth, but it was not enough as MVNU went on to win by a final of 9-6. Kaleb Bauman pitched six strong innings of relief for starter Jarin Bertke. Bauman allowed six hits, three earned runs, and struck-out seven in his win on the mound.
With the game one win over Madonna, MVNU advanced to face the No.1 seed and host team, Tennessee Wesleyan (52-5). MVNU started strong as it put three runs on the board in the top of the second. Brady Wallace scored from third after a wild throw, Toby Walker hit an RBI groundout that scored Clay Cottle, and Heck scored from third after a wild pitch. The Bulldogs responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third to tie the game, and they added two more runs in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.
Glover hit a two-run bomb to right field to tie the game back up in the top of the fifth. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs quickly regained the lead with a homerun in the bottom half of the inning. Tennessee Wesleyan kept its foot on the gas, scoring three runs in the seventh to take a 9-5 lead. MVNU got a run back in the eighth, but the Bulldogs answered with two more in the bottom of the inning. Despite scoring two runs and having the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, the Cougars were unable to complete the comeback, falling by a final of 11-8.
With the loss, MVNU will look to fight off elimination tomorrow against the winner of Madonna/Warner University. First pitch will be at 6:00pm at Hunter Wright Stadium.
Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and several convenient Graduate and Professional Studies locations throughout the state, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education to more than 2,200 students from 31 states and 22 countries/U.S. territories.